Raise Your Writing Bar – Master How To Eliminate That Passive Voice

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Passive Voice, Active Voice, Eliminate Passive Voice, Readers Attention, Raise Writing Bar, Professional Writing

An important factor that holds your readers’ attention from the get-go is the voice your article/book/post is written in. Readers prefer active voice sentences and writing in the active voice communicates our message effectively. The active voice makes your writing stronger, less wordy and tiresome. It clearly identifies an action and who is performing that action.

On the other hand, writing in the passive voice which is a common mistake that could easily slip into your writing fails to hold your readers’ interest and simply makes your writing boring and hard to read.

Mastering the skill of writing in the active voice is easier than you anticipated and less tedious than finding those little grammatical errors and typos. One way to know if you are writing in the active or passive voice is to find the subject of the sentence and decide if the subject is doing the action or being acted upon.





How to Recognize and Eliminate Passive Voice

In the active voice, your subject is doing the action.

  1. Jake ran past the man.
  2. Susan cooked the food.

In the passive voice, the subject is acted upon.

  1. The man was run past by Jake.
  2. The food was cooked by Susan.

Reading these two sentences you know that it doesn’t sound natural or seem right.

Another easy giveaway of the passive voice is to look for verbs stuck together. A passive voice adds other helping verbs such as ‘to be, being, has been, will be, are, is, was, were’ to a verb that could stand alone.

You can instantly fix your passive voice by rewriting your sentence so that the subject of your sentence comes before the verb.

Your active voice resembles spoken language. When we speak, we automatically speak in the active voice and our writing should mirror this.

For instance, you would never say:

My bicycle (subject) was ridden (action) to the park by me.

Instead, you would say:

I (subject) rode (action) my bicycle (object) to the park.



As always there’s an exception to the rule where the passive voice is preferable:

When the subject acted upon is more important than the doer and when we do not know who performed the action.

For example:

The city centre was bombed today.

Since the doer is either unknown and unimportant, in the sentence your focus is on the city centre. In this case, the passive voice adds an impact to the sentence.

Also, writers oftentimes fill in the gaps with redundant and unnecessary words thereby making their documents hard-to-read. Use simple terms to help quicker understanding.

For example:

Instead of this            Say this

True facts                                    True

Feasible                                       Likely

Ramification                               Result

Encounter                                   Meet

Correspondence                        Letter

Purchase                                     Buy

Prior                                             Before

Concur                                         Agree

Demonstrate                              Show

Make a decision                        Decide

Your aim is to make your writing as clear and as concise as possible, as well as an enjoyable experience for your reader.

 

 

I am Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha. A freelance writer, author and serial blogger. I am a passionate life enthusiast, a peoples' person who loves to read, write and tell stories. I love the art of photography and how a single image tells many stories. My driving objective is not only to achieve my creative goals and full potentials but to hopefully serve and inspire others who are equally on the same quest as I. Connect with me on social media. I would love to hear from you.

3 Comments

  1. Reply

    Very helpful, and also easy to understand! Thanks for sharing. It is something I am trying out, writing different little story starters and found helpful 🙂

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